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Reasons to leave an interview

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 28 May 2021

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Job interviews are typically seen as opportunities for job seekers to impress the employer. We spend a lot of time preparing and practicing for interviews and planning on how to persuade the interviewer with our answers. They can be stressful situations that although we have to put ourselves in to develop our careers, can cause a lot of unnecessary worry and anxiety for an individual.

However, job interviews are not just there for you to impress the employer, but for you to see if the employer is a good match for you and your career goals. The employer is there to impress you as well. They want good candidates, and this is your time to find out answers to some questions you may have. If the employer is not setting the bar or making mistakes throughout the interview that make you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore them. Any red flags you see during an interview are valid and may want you to re-think your decision to consider working for this company. However, getting up and leaving takes a lot of guts, so here are some reasons why you deciding to leave the interview would be completely understandable and acceptable.

If the work-life balance isn’t what you thought it was

Job descriptions are usually very detailed and should include the weekly hours the employer would expect you to work. One of the things that typically isn’t mentioned is the hours you are actually required to do for the role. The job spec can say “35 hours a week, non-inclusive of lunch breaks.” However, the interviewer may come out and say something like “35 hours plus any extra time it takes you to get the job done.” This may be fine for some, but for others, they may have life commitments that mean they can’t stay past the ‘typical’ working day hours. They may also let you know that overtime isn’t compensated and yet is still expected. This is where alarm bells may start ringing.

If it becomes clear to you in an interview, that they are going to expect far too much from you and you are starting to get that tight feeling in your stomach (we’ve all had it) then it might be time to make the decision to drop out from the interview process all together. Simply let the employer know that because of this, the role isn’t for you and you would like to end the interview. It’s not rude, you’re simply trying not to waste anyone’s time.

They keep you waiting

It’s normal for people to be late sometimes, especially if they are just having one of those days. In a busy working office environment, people can get side-tracked and stuck in meetings, so being late isn’t always intentional. However, if they are excessively late and do not offer you any kind of apologies, it doesn’t really seem like they value your time at all. Interviews are scheduled for a set time for a reason and they wouldn’t be happy at all if it was you that kept them waiting.  Interviews are a two-way street and if you are not impressed with an extra 30 minutes waiting time, let them know. Or if a really long time has passed, simply let the receptionist know that you are leaving. Stay polite but get your message across.

They seem unorganised

Job interviews take a lot of preparation. Some employers spend a long time going through applications, inviting candidates, and preparing questions beforehand. They should care about the process and this should be evident when you are talking to them. However, being late and not being prepared shouldn’t be overlooked. If you get into an interview room and they either look unprepared or you feel slightly uncomfortable whilst they get their things ready (which they should already have ready before inviting you in) then this is a valid oversight of how things might be when and if you were to work there. If you don’t feel like it’s right for you, you should let them know. You shouldn’t have to sit there through an interview, whilst they are struggling to find the right piece of paper.

The interviewer(s) ask you irrelevant and/or inappropriate questions

Some interviewers may like to test your boundaries and see what kind of information they can get out of you, however, not all of it is relevant and they shouldn’t be asking you certain questions. For example, it is absolutely none of their business how much your current salary is, what your relationship status is or even if you have children.

Employers may want to know these things to see how much you’re worth to the company. They also may want to know these things about your personal life so they can evaluate where you fit in to the workplace culture – such as your religious beliefs and what your hobbies are. Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate based on those aspects of your personal life, and they shouldn’t be asking you sneaky questions, and this is a completely valid reason to leave an interview.

The interviewer(s) (or anyone else in the company you come across) are rude

From the moment you enter a company’s building, you’re in the interview. The people you come into contact with will be the people you would be working with on a day-to-day basis. These people are supposed to uphold company values and if they are being rude or making you feel uncomfortable as you walk through the car park or even when you’re sat in reception, then it might already be a good time for you to leave. It’s not just the interviewers you should be analysing, because no one wants to work in a place that holds rude employees.

How to walk out of a job interview

If you’ve had enough of the red flags and feeling of discomfort, there’s no rule to say that you’re obliged to stick around. If the employer hasn’t impressed you from the moment you entered the companies building, then why should you? You shouldn’t have to waste your time and you’re doing them a favour. You don’t even have to let them know why you are leaving, just let them know you are now not interested in the role and would like to terminate your job application from there.

Knowing how to leave a job interview without burning any bridges may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually very easy to do. When it’s your turn to speak (don’t interrupt if you can avoid it) just politely say “I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is going to work out. Thank you for your time” and leave. Shake their hands if you want to. For all you know, the employer could be relieved that you’re going because they saw that you weren’t a right fit either. You don’t have to give a reason for leaving; just make it clear that the interview has come to an end and you’re not prepared to continue any further.